PsycholARTSical: Psyched about the arts/Diversity
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Language and Labelling (pp.104-105 )
Although the term exceptional student can refer to both students of high achievement or learning impairments, many claim that using labels for students is counterproductive since A)they aren't prescriptive in the same sense that medical treatments are; B) they tend to become self-fulfilling prophesies due to their tendency to be viewed as unchangeable stigmas; C) behavioural issues are often improperly attributed to these labels & stigmas, which may or may not be responsible for the problems.
On the other hand, many support the use of labels, claiming that A) they allow other classmates to be more accepting of behaviourally challenged individuals; B) they make possible the categorical use of specialized programs and assistance. In general, Woolfolk admits to the effects of both sides of each argument, and prompts teachers do the same.
Person-First language is a euphemism used to describe persons with disabilities by reducing the focus on the disability, and placing it more on the person. For example, instead of saying 'Jack is disabled', one would say 'Jack is a student with a disability'. Refer to page 107 for a box with more examples that might be used in a school.
Lastly, it is important to distinguish between the terms handicap and disability. The prior refers to a disadvantage an individual might face in certain situations, such as when stairs limit the access of a person in a wheel chair. A disability on the other hand refers to an inability to do something at all, such as walk or see.
- If possible, also define the disability as 'physical' or 'intellectual'. Many people tend to group those with a disability together and not recognize their differences and uniqueness as individuals.
Individual Differences in Intelligence (pp. 105-114)
Intelligence is defined as "Ability or abilities to acquire and use knowledge for solving problems and adapting to the world (Woolfolk, 106)."
There are various categories of identifying intelligences from different school of thoughts.
Fluid intelligence by Raymond Cattell
Mental efficiency that is universal (106).
This is closely related to the physical devleopment, especially the brain.
Crystallized intelligence by John Horn
Ability to apply culturally approved problem-solving methods (106).
This is culturally relevant, and closely related to experience.
Multiple intelligences by Gardner
There are eight separate abilites;
- linguistic (verbal)
- bodily-kinesthetic (movement)
- interpersonal (understanding others)
- intrapersonal (understanding self)
- naturalist (observing and understanding natural and human-made patterns and systems)
Thoughts about assessment of the intelligences
The words 'individual differences' implies that these intelligences can be evaluated with specific method of testing, and there are numeric values that enables to compare the result of different people. However, how fair and valid are the standardized testing of intelligences? For instance, how can an interpersonal intelligence tested? It would make nonsense to test someone's interpersonal skill by measuring how long they can talk with the other person; checking if they are making proper eye contacts; or checking if he makes the people around him to laugh.
Gardner's multiple intelligences has limitations in assessment. Gardner identified the eight separate abilites, but never suggested the ways to evaluate them. There are tests designed for each of them; for instances, math contests for logical-mathematical abilities, TOEFL for linguistic abilities, or Royal Conservatory of Music exams for musical abilities. However, do the scores of these tests accurately reflect the actual intelligence? I doubt it. I saw a case where a native English speaker failed TOEFL test when a person who cannot fluently communicate in English passed the test with great score.
Are different kinds of intelligences related?
Can someone be good at understanding others (interpersonal intelligence) without proper understanding of self (intrapersonal)? Or does a person with interpersonal intelligence has higher possibility of having higher linguistic (verbal) intelligence than the others? Can crystallized intelligence be completely separated from fluid intelligence? It would be worthwhile to investigate the relationship between the different kinds of intelligences because it implies that there is a possibility to develop specific intelligence by using other types of intelligences; or that there are specific type of intelligence that has to be developed in order to develop the other.
Ability Differences and Teaching (pp. 114-116)
- Ability Grouping in the New Ontario Curriculum
- Between-class Ability Grouping is a system of grouping in which students are assigned to classes based on their measured ability or their achievements. (p 114) This practice, common in secondary and some elementary schools, is also known as tracking (United States) or streaming (Canada).
- Most high schools stream their courses according to high-, middle- and low-ability levels in a given subject. (p 114) This type of streaming is aptly illustrated by the old Ontario Academic Credit (OAC) curriculum, which offered advanced, general and basic level courses.
- According to research, this type of segregation tends to benefit high-achieving students while presenting obstacles for lower-achieving students. Woolfolk asserts that students in lower-ability streams have, historically, received lower-quality instruction. Part of the problem is attributed to a reduced academic focus that perpetuates lower-level objectives. (p 114) Other factors include frequent classroom management problems and teacher stress leading to decreased enthusiasm. This cycle sends the wrong message to students, who feel discouraged by low expectations and lack of interest on the part of the teacher. Furthermore, streaming undermines equity. Because disadvantaged and minority groups are disproportionately represented in lower-ability streams, these students are not well-served by the education system. (p 115)
- The inclusive alternative is to teach all students in mixed ability groups – by providing support for students who struggle and enrichment for those who learn quickly. In order to implement this approach, it is necessary to eliminate remedial courses for the sake of student self-esteem and future expectations. In fact, teachers must raise student expectations for success by providing accessible strategies for working with challenging content. An important part of the effort to raise expectations is to encourage students from minority groups to enroll in academic level courses. (p 115)
- Under the New Ontario Curriculum, secondary schools use the following (more complex) model for between-class ability grouping:
- Grades 9-10: Open, Applied, Academic
- Grades 11-12: Open, Workplace, College, University/College, University
- Note that there is no longer a basic (remedial) level and the fact that Open courses are deemed appropriate for all students. For senior students the options are further diversified, encouraging mixed-ability grouping in Open and University/College courses.
- Does this updated model offer significant/sufficient improvement over previous efforts? What are the implications for students and teachers?
Cognitive and Learning Styles (pp.116-120)
Cognitive styles: “Different ways of perceiving and organizing information” (p.117)
Woolfolk advises it is important cognitive styles are differentiated from learning preferences and not confused with one another (p.119). Cognitive styles are not indicators of intelligence levels or special abilities, but are only descriptors of ways in which one perceives, remembers, thinks, etc…In the book an example is given of a person who reacts quickly to a situation versus one who responds at a slower rate after reflective thought (strong markers of impulsive or reflective cognitive styles (p.118)). It goes on to say that both are equally knowledgeable on the topic but just deal with it differently (p.117).
Field dependence vs. Field independence (p.118) Field dependent people observe patterns as a whole and do not separate or break apart elements. Honing in on one aspect of an incident, picking out important details, and reflecting on their strategies in problem solving are often what they have trouble with. According to Woolfolk these people often have success in subjects related to literature and history. They remember information best from social information and work very well in groups. Field independent people are often more likely to observe their strategies with their work. They seem to do better at math and science where they are able to use their analytic abilities; as they observe patterns and break apart patterns into components.
Taking the time to identify attributes such as these could help teachers understand their students’ needs and permit opportunities for better instruction. In the grouping by achievement section (p.117), it recommends students be allotted into groups based on their current performance within the class. It highlights that in such a setting, teachers would be able to walk around and assist students better as each group would require the same/similar sort of instruction to succeed at the task (p.117). I found this to be interesting as it contradicts the popular notion of placing stronger students with weaker students.
Learning Preferences: “Preferred ways of studying and learning such as using pictures instead of text, working with other people versus alone, learning in structured or in unstructured situations, etc…” (p.119)
It is often difficult to get students to understand the importance of unveiling their preferred method of learning. Many students end up learning in a certain way because there are a lack/no alternatives visible to them. It is important that new ways to learn are presented to students so that they can achieve their optimal performance; the question is how?
- Many teachers take up some class time to do personality tests. Although it would take time away from curriculum learnings it is beneficial for the students to help them better understand themselves and their learning styles. This will, in turn, also benefit the teacher by giving them a better understanding of the students in their classroom. There are a variety of personality tests out there that an educator can be trained to facilitate.
Creativity, Giftedness, and Talent (pp. 120-127)
Creativity: What is creativity? How do we recognise it? How do we assess it? How do we cultivate it? These questions are assuredly a significant concern to the art educator. Woolfolk et. al. offer us a definition of creativity that highlights the ability of an individual to produce imaginative "work that is original but still appropriate and useful” in solving important problems (p. 120). Emphasising that creativity should be recognised as something original (or new) within a social context or field has also been stated by scholars such as Howard Gardner and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
- In the realm of creativity and cognition, two areas of study come to the foreground:
- 1. Creative Problem Solving – The process of restructuring problems in new and imaginative ways in order to achieve a creative solution.
- 2. Divergent Thinking: The process of coming up with many different solutions to a problem (i.e. brainstorming).
- Brainstorming: John Baer (quoted in Woolfolk) offers us 4 rules for brainstorming (p. 122):
- 1. Defer judgement.
- 2. Avoid ownership of ideas. Egos can sometimes get in the way of the creative process.
- 3. Feel free to borrow or modify other ideas.
- 4. Encourage wild ideas. Seemingly outrageous ideas can often be modified to suit the needs of a particular situation.
- Woolfolk’s definition of creativity raises an interesting area to ponder for the arts educator. What are we trying to accomplish with our students and their creative practice?
- In music, for instance, what forms of creativity should we be trying to cultivate? The ministry documents, though they do not make direct references to creativity, would seem to be content on emphasising performance as the primary site if creativity (i.e. the process of creating music). Many secondary music programs are built around the performance-rehearsal model, where the bulk of time and effort is spent preparing performances of repertoire. But should that suffice? Are those performance-focussed students being creative?
- A hasty response might simply state that merely performing the work of others is not entirely a creative process when compared to activities where the individual has a more active role in the inspiration and composition of a musical work. Yet, it would be hard to argue that our most celebrated performers were not being creative in their interpretation and performance of musical works even thought they were not the composer of that piece. Was Glen Gould being creative during his performances works that he did not compose? It would be unlikely to encounter a many musicians and critics who would argue that his renditions of J.S. Bach’s music were not creative accomplishments. The question remains, though: How can we foster and assess creativity in performance/repertoire-based activities?
- In more creativity-based activities (i.e. composition and improvisation), what types of creativity are we to recognise there. Our definitions of creativity seem contingent upon creating something new within a social context. It appears as though a re-invention of the wheel would not be regarded as creative by most scholars. However, would a student who decided to write music with no tonality (despite of never having heard of Schoenberg) be demonstrating creativity in their work?
- Woolfolk’s definition would seem to argue that this student was not being creative, ant that their work had already been discovered by someone else in the past. What do we do then? Do we tell the student that this type of work has already been carried out, perhaps crushing what could have been a meaningful process of inspiration for that student. Or do we let the student continue their work, risking that they might eventually become disillusioned with their progress when they inevitably find out that their discovery had been developed (and even rejected) some time ago?
Giftedness: There is a common misconception of what giftedness is, or what gifted children are. To many, gifted children are "bookworms", or those who are considered to be the geeky nerds of a school's population. Most school districts consider gifted children to fall in the upper 2%-3% of the IQ spectrum (Weiten, 355); however, this conception is not an accurate depiction of what giftedness entails. A longitudinal study by, Lewis Terman, in 1921, consisted of approximately 1500 children with an average IQ of 150 (Weiten, 356). According to Terman's findings, gifted children had more than just above average intelligence they were also, "above average in height, weight, strength, physical health, emotional adjustment, mental health, and social maturity"(Weiten, 356). Other studies have also found above average qualities in other areas of children's development including, social and emotional development (Weiten, 356). Interestingly, there is a distinction among giftedness to also consider. Ellen Winner, distinguishes a difference between moderately gifted children (those with an IQ between 130-150) and those who are profoundly IQ (an IQ above 180; Weiten 356). She supports the notion that the difference between the two groups lie in temperament. Winner claims that the latter are more "introverted and socially isolated" and that interpersonal and emotional problems are more likely (Weiten, 356). A further distinction also exists; there are those gifted children whose high-IQ classifies them as the cream of the crop of the school; where as the other group of gifted children are those who are considered "eminent adults who make enduring contributions in their fields" (Weiten, 356). Another interesting theory from the theorist by the name of Joseph Renzulli, came up with the idea called, a three-ring conception of eminent giftedness in which high IQ is only one third of the recipe for eminence. He suggests that a mixture of exceptional ability, creativity and motivation leads some to vast achievements in their area of interest (Weiten, 356).
The question that I would like to throw out into the universe is... How can we foster giftedness in children so that all children can grow up to be eminent adults?
- While the sentiment behind this question is clear, it needs to be established that a student identified as gifted is not the same as a student who is high-achieving or unusually self-motivated. While there are undoubtedly gifted students who possess these characteristics, I disagree with the idea that ‘giftedness’ is something that can or should be fostered.
- With regard to education and curriculum, gifted students (also known as high-ability learners) are identified as individuals who require accommodation that cannot be achieved through the age/grade-appropriate level of curriculum. High ability learners, like students with learning disabilities, are identified as such because their needs are not being met by the current programming and/or curriculum. For this reason, while giftedness should undoubtedly be supported by both parents and teachers, it is not something that can be ‘fostered’.
- There are obviously numerous implications for the classroom teacher and there are some important things for educators to keep in mind. Because gifted students are recognized as students whose needs are not supported by age/grade-appropriate curriculum, the ‘gifted’ label is only relevant in terms of ensuring that the student receives relevant instruction. For some students, this is a necessity earlier on in life but later on the mainstream curriculum will address their needs and for other the students the reverse is true. Additionally, a student may require special programming in one subject area (eg. science, music) whereas the curriculum may be appropriate for his abilities/needs in other areas of school. For this reason, frequent and thorough assessment of students needs must be a priority.
- High ability learners represent the top 2 percentile of the population and, while all students have the potential and ability to achieve great things, this does not mean all students are, or will be, gifted. Certainly we should encourage, support and adapt our instruction for all students; however, it is important that educators recognize the difference between differentiated instruction and individualized support vs. creating gifted-specific programming and accommodations.
- For more information on the unique characteristics and needs of high ability learners, see Being Smart About Gifted Children – Joanne Foster and Dona Matthews.
- Other resources:
High-Incidence Disabilities (pp. 127-140)
High-Incidence Disabilities are ones teachers will most likely encounter in their classrooms. These include learning disabilities, communication disorders, developmental disabilities and emotional or behavioural disorders. Due to inclusive policies these students will be included in mainstream classes.
It is important to know that within each general disabilities/disorders, there are many specific branches, which will require different types of modification in order for these students to be equally successful.
- Learning disabilities include: oral language (understanding what is being said), reading (comprehension and word recognition), written language (spelling and sentence structure), mathematics (calculations and problem solving). According to LD Online 'one in seven children requires special attention in the learning process." The following link has lots of information pertaining to learning disabilities from identifying them, to common signs, how to respond and ADHD: http://www.ldonline.org. It is important to note "No set of teaching techniques will be effective for every learning disabled child." (Woolfolk, Winne and Perry, 130) The special education teachers at each school will design appropriate instruction plans for each individual student and teachers are to implement these strategies along with their support.
Learning disabilities are most common in our classrooms, with over half of all students receiving special education help being those with a learning disability. Learning disabilities range in severity, but the most common characteristics include: specific difficulties in one or more academic subjects, poor coordination, problems paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity; problems organizing and interpreting visual and auditory information; disorders of thinking, memory, speech and hearing; and difficulties making and keeping friends.
- Hyperactivity and attention disorders include: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - those who have problems with inattention and impulse control along with hyperactivity. Nylund (2000) has created a new strategy for dealing with ADHD, which "stresses personal agency". The idea is to focus on the child's strengths in order to 'conquer' the child's problems - "the focus is on solutions" (Nylund, 2000). The steps of the SMART approach are:
- Separating the problem of ADHD from the child
- Mapping the influence of ADHD on the child and the family
- Attending to the exceptions to the ADHD story
- Reclaiming special abilities of children diagnosed with ADHD
- Telling and celebrating the new story (Nylund, 2000, p. xix)
- Communication disorders include: speech impairments, articulations disorders, stuttering, voicing problems, language disorders. The best way to be sure to include everyone in conversation regardless of different communication disorders is to teach language in various ways such as sign language and being sure to use jesters when speaking.
- Developmental disabilities - this term has now replaced 'mental retardation' in Canada (however it is still used in the United States). The American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) has a classification system that helps identify the type of help needed to support a child to the fullest degree. This classification scheme ranges as follows: Intermittent, Limited, Extensive, Pervasive
See the following sites for further information - http://www.aamr.org/ http://aaidd.allenpress.com/aamronline/?request=get-static&name=ajmr-info
An interesting study was done by Lord (1991) where he found that "involvement in the community [is] key to individuals with disabilities feeling empowered and taking charge of their own lives". This is a mode of transition programming where the idea is to help individuals with disabilities prepare for jobs and community lifestyles.
- Behavioural and emotional disorders include: conduct disorders (aggressive, destructive, disobedient, disruptive), anxiety-withdrawal disorder (withdrawn, anxious, depressed, cry easily). It is important to note that "...students with learning disabilities, developmental disabilities or ADHD may also have emotional or behavioural problems" (Woolfolk, Winne and Perry, 139) which will be a constant struggle for both themselves, and everyone at school. It is important to work with the special education teacher at your school in order to design appropriate modes of instruction for such students.
Low-Incidence Disabilities (pp. 140-143)
Low-incidence disabilities include severe developmental disabilities, autism, sensory impairments that have to do with vision and hearing. They can also include chronic health concerns and physical disabilities. Most teachers will only encounter a few students with low-incidence disabilities, but it is their responsibility to be educated about the disability and what strategies can be used in the classroom to meet their needs. Many students with low-incidence disabilities will have an educational assistant with them in the classroom, and therefore it is important that the teacher and the educational assistant work together to provide the most positive experience for the student.
Chronic Health Concerns
Students with chronic health concerns will often have special devices to participate in school programs. If a school can provide the necessary features that these students require then the usual educational program does not need to be greatly altered. Woolfolk et al. describe two examples of chronic health concerns: Cerebral Palsy – condition involving a range of motor or coordination difficulties due to brain damage, and Epilepsy – disorder marked by seizures and caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. There are many more chronic health concerns that teachers may come into contact with. On pp.139 of the text book (Educational Psychology, 3rd Edition), in Table 4.10 there is a list of Special Education Journals where further information on disabilities can be found.
Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
At the high school level most students who are deaf and hard of hearing will have already been identified. There are signs that teachers can watch for to determine whether a student is deaf or hard of hearing:
- student turns one ear toward the speaker
- student misunderstands conversation when the speaker’s face cannot be seen
- student does not follow directions, seems distracted or confused at times, does not participate in class discussion
- student frequently asks people to repeat things, mispronouncing new words
A common perspective says that people who are deaf and hard of hearing are part of a different culture with a different language, values, and social institutions. The goal for a teacher should be to help their student become bilingual and bicultural, so that they are able to function in both cultures.
Students with Low Vision and Blindness
Signs a teacher can watch for to determine whether a student has low vision and blindness:
- student holds books very close or far away
- student squints, rubs eyes, complains that their eyes hurt, their eyes may look sore
- student may misread information from the board, be sensitive to light
- student may become annoyed when they have to follow an activity or note from far away
It is important to watch for signs for low vision. Many students will struggle with school work because of their vision problem and may not realize they could be receiving help. For students who are educationally blind, a teacher must work to ensure that the student is aware of the classroom setup, leaving plenty of space around the room, and being consistent with arrangement is the best way to ensure they are comfortable in the classroom.
Technology and special material and equipment have become a great source of help for students with low-incidence disabilities. It is the teachers’ responsibility to become knowledgeable of the technological resources that are available to assist these students.
This section of the chapter has me wondering how many teachers are actually educated on low-incidence disabilities and the resources that are available. Do you think that a course in special education should be mandatory for all teachers? Should it become part of teacher’s college? --JollyJamie (talk) 04:45, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Exceptional Education and Inclusion (pp. 143-149)
It is important for an educator to be familiar with the diverse needs of each student in the classroom. This is for the reason that at some point throughout an educator's career, they will encounter exceptional learners in their classrooms and will have to accommodate them accordingly.
Exceptional Education Laws and Policies
- Each province differs in terms of the legislation that affects special education across Canada. To find policies that relation specifically to Ontario, research the Education or School Act.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the only one piece of legislation that has an impact on education across Canada. Essentially, this piece of legislation protects the rights of all Canadians, in particular, those who are of minority groups and those with disabilities.
- It is important for educators to be accustomed with the terms Inclusion and Integration. As of now, Inclusion is the current policy of all provinces and territories in Canada. Inclusion is defined as, “the practice of integrating exceptional students into regular education classrooms; the emphasis is on participation rather then placement” (Woolfolk et. al, p. 144). Integration is defined as "the practice of having exceptional students participate in activities with their non-exceptional peers" (Woolfolk et. al, p. 144).
Least Restrictive Placement
- This term refers to how students with exceptional needs should be placed in the most regular, mainstreamed edcational settings as possible. However, it is essential to ensure that these students receive the proper support appropriate to their special needs. Thus, students should only be removed from the regular educational environment when the nature or severity of their disability is such that even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.
Individualized Education Program OR Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- It is mandatory for each student with exceptional learning needs to have his/her own education plan so the teacher can meet their distinct needs to ensure their success. IEP’s can inform and aware the teacher of issues such as the the disability affecting the student, the student’s present level of functioning, the students strengths and weaknesses, a list of specific services needed for the student, and a description of how the student will participate in the program.